Reflect

Reflections: Summer Short Story

June 27 / 17

Hello, all. It’s that time again and since summer has arrived, might as well keep up with the summer theme. Found a sci-fi short story titled All Summer In A Day by Ray Bradbury. It was published in the March 1954 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I hope you like it….


cred: http://www.btboces.org

All Summer in a Day
By Ray Bradbury

“Ready ?”
“Ready.”
“Now ?”
“Soon.”
“Do the scientists really know? Will it
happen today, will it ?”
“Look, look; see for yourself !”
The children pressed to each other like so
many roses, so many weeds, intermixed,
peering out for a look at the hidden sun.
It rained.
It had been raining for seven years;
thousands upon thousands of days
compounded and filled from one end to the
other with rain, with the drum and gush of
water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers
and the concussion of storms so heavy they
were tidal waves come over the islands. A
thousand forests had been crushed under
the rain and grown up a thousand times to
be crushed again. And this was the way life
was forever on the planet Venus, and this
was the schoolroom of the children of the
rocket men and women who had come to a
raining world to set up civilization and live
out their lives.
“It’s stopping, it’s stopping !”
“Yes, yes !”
Margot stood apart from them, from these
children who could ever remember a time
when there wasn’t rain and rain and rain.
They were all nine years old, and if there
had been a day, seven years ago, when the
sun came out for an hour and showed its
face to the stunned world, they could not
recall. Sometimes, at night, she heard them
stir, in remembrance, and she knew they
were dreaming and remembering gold or a
yellow crayon or a coin large enough to buy
the world with. She knew they thought they
remembered a warmness, like a blushing in
the face, in the body, in the arms and legs
and trembling hands. But then they always
awoke to the tatting drum, the endless
shaking down of clear bead necklaces upon
the roof, the walk, the gardens, the forests,
and their dreams were gone.
All day yesterday they had read in class
about the sun. About how like a lemon it
was, and how hot. And they had written
small stories or essays or poems about it: I
think the sun is a flower, That blooms for just
one hour. That was Margot’s poem, read
in a quiet voice in the still classroom while
the rain was falling outside.
“Aw, you didn’t write that!” protested one
of the boys.
“I did,” said Margot. “I did.”
“William!” said the teacher.
But that was yesterday. Now the rain was
slackening and the children were crushed in
the great thick windows.
Where’s teacher ?”
“She’ll be back.”
“She’d better hurry, we’ll miss it !”
They turned on themselves, like a
feverish wheel, all tumbling spokes. Margot
stood alone. She was a very frail girl who
looked as if she had been lost in the rain for
years and the rain had washed out the blue
from her eyes and the red from her mouth
and the yellow from her hair. She was an old
photograph dusted from an album, whitened
away, and if she spoke at all her voice would
be a ghost. Now she stood, separate,
staring at the rain and the loud wet world
beyond the huge glass.
“What’re you looking at ?” said William.
Margot said nothing.
“Speak when you’re spoken to.”
He gave her a shove. But she did not
move; rather she let herself be moved only
by him and nothing else. They edged away
from her, they would not look at her. She felt
them go away. And this was because she
would play no games with them in the
echoing tunnels of the underground city. If
they tagged her and ran, she stood blinking
after them and did not follow. When the
class sang songs about happiness and life
and games her lips barely moved. Only
when they sang about the sun and the
summer did her lips move as she watched
the drenched windows. And then, of course,
the biggest crime of all was that she had
come here only five years ago from Earth,
and she remembered the sun and the way
the sun was and the sky was when she was
four in Ohio. And they, they had been on
Venus all their lives, and they had been only
two years old when last the sun came out
and had long since forgotten the color and
heat of it and the way it really was.
But Margot remembered.
“It’s like a penny,” she said once, eyes
closed.
“No it’s not!” the children cried.
“It’s like a fire,” she said, “in the stove.”
“You’re lying, you don’t remember !” cried
the children.
But she remembered and stood quietly
apart from all of them and watched the
patterning windows. And once, a month ago,
she had refused to shower in the school
shower rooms had clutched her hands to
her ears and over her head, screaming the
water mustn’t touch her head. So after that,
dimly, dimly, she sensed it, she was different
and they knew her difference and kept
away. There was talk that her father and
mother were taking her back to Earth next
year; it seemed vital to her that they do so,
though it would mean the loss of thousands
of dollars to her family. And so, the children
hated her for all these reasons of big and
little consequence. They hated her pale
snow face, her waiting silence, her thinness,
and her possible future.
“Get away !” The boy gave her another
push. “What’re you waiting for?”
Then, for the first time, she turned and
looked at him. And what she was waiting for
was in her eyes.
“Well, don’t wait around here !” cried the
boy savagely. “You won’t see nothing!”
Her lips moved.
“Nothing !” he cried. “It was all a joke,
wasn’t it?” He turned to the other children.
“Nothing’s happening today. Is it ?”
They all blinked at him and then,
understanding laughed and shook their
heads.
“Nothing, nothing !”
“Oh, but,” Margot whispered, her eyes
helpless. “But this is the day, the scientists
predict, they say, they know, the sun…”
“All a joke !” said the boy, and seized her
roughly. “Hey, everyone, let’s put her in a
closet before the teacher comes !”
“No,” said Margot, falling back.
They surged about her, caught her up and
bore her, protesting, and then pleading, and
then crying, back into a tunnel, a room, a
closet, where they slammed and locked the
door. They stood looking at the door and
saw it tremble from her beating and throwing
herself against it. They heard her muffled
cries. Then, smiling, he turned and went out
and back down the tunnel, just as the
teacher arrived.
“Ready, children ?” She glanced at her
watch.
“Yes !” said everyone.
“Are we all here ?”
“Yes !”
The rain slacked still more.
They crowded to the huge door.
The rain stopped.
It was as if, in the midst of a film
concerning an avalanche, a tornado, a
hurricane, a volcanic eruption, something
had, first, gone wrong with the sound
apparatus, thus muffling and finally cutting
off all noise, all of the blasts and
repercussions and thunders, and then,
second, ripped the film from the projector
and inserted in its place a beautiful tropical
slide which did not move or tremor. The
world ground to a standstill. The silence was
so immense and unbelievable that you felt
your ears had been stuffed or you had lost
your hearing altogether. The children put
their hands to their ears. They stood apart.
The door slid back and the smell of the
silent, waiting world came into them.
The sun came out.
It was the color of flaming bronze and it
was very large. And the sky around it was a
blazing blue tile color. And the jungle burned
with sunlight as the children, released from
their spell, rushed out, yelling into the
springtime.
“Now, don’t go too far,” called the teacher
after them. “You’ve only two hours, you
know. You wouldn’t want to get caught out !”
But they were running and turning their
faces up to the sky and feeling the sun on
their cheeks like a warm iron; they were
taking off their jackets and letting the sun
burn their arms.
“Oh, it’s better than the sun lamps, isn’t it
?”
“Much, much better !”
They stopped running and stood in the
great jungle that covered Venus, that grew
and never stopped growing, tumultuously,
even as you watched it. It was a nest of
octopi, clustering up great arms of flesh like
weed, wavering, flowering in this brief
spring. It was the color of rubber and ash,
this jungle, from the many years without sun.
It was the color of stones and white cheeses
and ink, and it was the color of the moon.
The children lay out, laughing, on the
jungle mattress, and heard it sigh and
squeak under them resilient and alive. They
ran among the trees, they slipped and fell,
they pushed each other, they played hide-and-seek
and tag, but most of all they
squinted at the sun until the tears ran down
their faces; they put their hands up to that
yellowness and that amazing blueness and
they breathed of the fresh, fresh air and
listened and listened to the silence which
suspended them in a blessed sea of no
sound and no motion. They looked at
everything and savored everything. Then,
wildly, like animals escaped from their
caves, they ran and ran in shouting circles.
They ran for an hour and did not stop
running.
And then –
In the midst of their running one of the
girls wailed.
Everyone stopped.
The girl, standing in the open, held out
her hand.
“Oh, look, look,” she said, trembling.
They came slowly to look at her opened
palm.
In the center of it, cupped and huge, was
a single raindrop. She began to cry, looking
at it. They glanced quietly at the sun.
“Oh. Oh.”
A few cold drops fell on their noses and
their cheeks and their mouths. The sun
faded behind a stir of mist. A wind blew cold
around them. They turned and started to
walk back toward the underground house,
their hands at their sides, their smiles
vanishing away.
A boom of thunder startled them and like
leaves before a new hurricane, they tumbled
upon each other and ran. Lightning struck
ten miles away, five miles away, a mile, a
half mile. The sky darkened into midnight in
a flash.
They stood in the doorway of the
underground for a moment until it was
raining hard. Then they closed the door and
heard the gigantic sound of the rain falling in
tons and avalanches, everywhere and
forever.
“Will it be seven more years ?”
“Yes. Seven.”
Then one of them gave a little cry.
“Margot !”
“What ?”
“She’s still in the closet where we locked
her.”
“Margot.”
They stood as if someone had driven
them, like so many stakes, into the floor.
They looked at each other and then looked
away. They glanced out at the world that
was raining now and raining and raining
steadily. They could not meet each other’s
glances. Their faces were solemn and pale.
They looked at their hands and feet, their
faces down.
“Margot.”
One of the girls said, “Well… ?”
No one moved.
“Go on,” whispered the girl.
They walked slowly down the hall in the
sound of cold rain. They turned through the
doorway to the room in the sound of the
storm and thunder, lightning on their faces,
blue and terrible. They walked over to the
closet door slowly and stood by it.
Behind the closet door was only silence.
They unlocked the door, even more
slowly, and let Margot out.

 

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday and be blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

featured image: Mrs. Russell's Classroom
This entry was posted in: Reflect

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I'm the founder of Shadowboxerinc, Creativity In All Forms. This where I share all kinds of information in the creative world of art, literature, music, photography, digital...all art! I'm also the writer, illustrator of The Nahla Chronicles. The reason my brain is wired, too much creativity!